June 29, 2011

9 in, 9 out, and Northward Bound

A little over a week ago, my baby girl was nine months old. The date held a lot of significance for me, whether it was because she'd spent an equal amount of time in the womb and out of the womb, because all the pregnancy fitness magazines say you should expect it to take at least that long for you to get your pre-pregnancy body back (I don't quite), or that she's got one more season to go til she's a year old.

Enthused by the auspicious-feeling date, I told Margo it was high time we pulled that placenta we'd saved from the birth, which had been hiding out in the freezer ever since. You may not have known that some cultures consider the placenta a deceased twin. Or that there's a Chinese medicine custom of consuming it in capsules for post-partum or menopausal complaints. Many people give no thought to the fact that many placentas simply fall down trash chutes after birth. Whereas we didn't feel quite the same as the traditional cultures do about our placenta, we also didn't have such little regard for it as to let it get hauled off to the garbage.

So we settled for something in the middle. We said a few words and planted it under a tree in our yard. When I told my midwife friend in San Miguel, whose website was where I learned about the above customs, she said "Cool!" When I told my mom, she said, "Ohhh." (Or was it "eww"?) But no matter—it was our idea that it'd nourish a beautiful mesquite that the baby will someday climb in when she is older. So literally, it will help her put down roots in what's a new land for her maternal lineage (I was fourth-generation Northern Forest girl, she is a first-generation Semidesierto Queretana).

Now that that's out of the way, we're ready to show that we're both big girls. The baby and I will be flying up by ourselves to go visit her grandparents in those verdant landscapes of Upstate New York. I must put aside my misgivings about having to travel without her father, of having this ongoing, frustrating status as a binational family without certain rights and privileges. Although it's impossible for the bitterness to disappear entirely, I will have to find a way to enjoy my time there, for my daughter's sake. She must meet her northern great-grandmother, her uncle, great-aunts and uncles. I want to introduce her to the land where I grew up, where I was inspired to become an ecologist and a teacher. I want to do it with enough gusto to convince her too that it is worth continuing to dream about returning to someday, as an entire family. I pray that the universe will conspire to help me pull it off, because God knows it's not just about me.

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